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What Alexander The Great Teaches Us About Project Management

Alexander the Great was a fantastic conqueror who in 10 years went from owning a single piece of Greece to having control of the known world. The campaign was one big project and Alexander managed it like a top executive.

Alexander, killin' and lootin'

In order to lead like Alexander, you need to:

1) Start New Projects

Before his death, Alexander the Great’s father planned to conquer all of Greece. After taking the throne, Alexander decided to complete those plans and go further; he conquered the entire world. Nobody gave him permission to do this, he just saw the opportunity, built his tribe, and went for it.

As a product manager, you always need to be starting and finishing new projects. You make your own work, so if you aren’t busy or relaxing, you are doing something wrong. Be like Alexander and take initiative within your company.

2) Follow Through

Conquering the world means taking hold of all its kingdoms, but one kingdom, the island of Tyre, would not surrender. They had high walls and Alexander had no boats to cross over the ocean to reach them. Instead of giving up and going home, he and his soldiers built a goddamn bridge across the ocean, got close enough to seize the city.

Being successful is hard. Sometimes you might not want to work, but you need to do it anyway. If you are a writer start writing, your body will get used to it and the words will flow freely. This principle works with business, product management, and everything else. Don’t let procrastination stand between you and success; do what needs to be done.

3) Listen To Your Troops

Detail of the Alexander Mosaic, representing A...

XERXES!!!!!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once Alexander had conquered Greece and the Western world, his army was tired and he was faced with a choice: keep fighting and move into Persia, or send them home for a three-month vacation. Alexander looked outside himself, asked the troops what they wanted, and ended up sending them home for the winter. They came back recharged and ready for a strong march into the Persian Empire.

When planning projects, do what Alexander did: listen to your people and give them time to work on their passions. They will be more engaged and work harder.

Plan schedules so workers get time off, and use the Pareto Principle to make sure your company gets more done than anyone else. A good book to read on this is Drucker’s Effective Executive.

Tell me in the comments: How could you be as great as Alexander?